How to Promote the Profession – Part 1, Professionalism

12 Jan

Throughout this blog, I have written my opinions on why an AT should be at every high school in the US, but this blog is too small a forum to accomplish that goal.  What it will take to achieve that level of care for all high school athletes is a collective effort by thousands of ATs across the country to promote the profession.  This series of blog entries will seek to give ideas to the AT on real life ways that they can also promote the profession.

Part 1 – Professionalism

As Mike Hopper, ATC commented to a PromotetheProfession entry, the general public often sees us sitting in the dugout not realizing that the work we do for the team was performed hours before the game ever started.  Even at the professional level, when the athlete gets injured and the AT takes the field, the networks use the opportunity to air a commercial or show a replay.  It is rare that the general public sees an ATC at work.  So, it is therefore extremely important to always show professionalism as an ATC.  To me, professionalism is the idea that the profession is bigger than the individual.  Professionalism also has a connotation of paying homage to those who laid the groundwork before us and continuing to raise the standard of excellence for those who follow in our footsteps.  Many professional athletes are taught this concept as they enter the pro sports ranks.  The idea is to carry yourself with the honor and respect that those who went before you earned and to continue to carry and pass that honor and respect on to the next group.

As an athletic trainer, it is important that we understand the hours and years that our athletic training forefathers (and mothers) put into the profession to pave the way for us.  It took thousands of men and women to develop the profession to the point that it currently is.  This is currently an honorable health care profession spawned from the need for quality health care for athletes of yore.  Not only did they create a profession rising from the need, they also developed a sound educational program that has now become a popular major in the nation’s colleges.  According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, athletic training is one of the top growth jobs through 2018.  It is crucial that these new ATCs understand the sacrifice that the athletic trainers in the 1950s, 60s and 70s did to get us to where we are today.  Once the concept of professionalism is fully understood by the AT, it will dramatically change many behaviors.  Professionalism should drive how you dress, how you speak to others, interact with other ATs, PTs, and doctors, and how you carry yourself in public.  ATs are medical professionals who care for the nations physically active.  It is essential that we convey the message that we are a highly educated health care professional.

I believe that it is imperative that current ATs continue to pave the way for the next generation of ATs.  Work to improve the profession; don’t just exist to fulfill your duties.  It may be that all you are capable of is to improve your current position for the next AT by conducting yourself at the highest levels of professionalism in your community.  If that is all you can do, then do it with all you have.  Maybe you can take it to the next level and improve the athletic training services within your athletic conference.  Take your message of professionalism to the ATs within the conference and collectively improve the athletic training services to the athletes.  Maybe you can work at the regional level, the state level or even the national level.  I know not everyone has the ability, foresight or desire to work to improve athletic training on the national level, only a select few can.  But I do firmly believe that every AT can work to improve the profession within their own circle of influence.

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